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Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush clashed over Iran, highlighting just how extreme tensions are and the danger of a U.S. attack (as well as the sharpening imperialist rivalry between the U.S. and Russia overall).
Putin, on the first visit to Iran by a Russian head of state in over 60 years, denounced U.S. threats, declaring, “We should not even think of making use of force in this region…. Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility.” Putin, who has so far resisted U.S. demands for more punitive sanctions against Iran, also stated there was no evidence that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons.
Two days later, President Bush hit back and took the war threats to a new level: “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War 3, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” The White House tried to downplay Bush’s remark, claiming it was just “a rhetorical point.” But the threat of world war was out there (implicitly directed at Russia as well!). And Bush was clearly demanding that Russia go along with his insistence that Iran be prevented from having even a nuclear energy program (which is legal under current treaties), because the technology needed could be used for weapons.
The Bush-Putin clash comes as the Bush regime, with support of most of the U.S. ruling class, has increasingly targeted Iran as the main obstacle to its Middle East agenda, and may be preparing for war. The administration has orchestrated a propaganda campaign centered on accusations that Iran is building nuclear weapons and directing attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. The House and Senate have both passed resolutions labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “terrorist organization”—potentially a war trigger. The Bush regime is waging a “financial war” on Iran and trying to get other big powers to tighten economic sanctions. Nearly half the U.S.’s warships have recently been stationed near Iran. The Pentagon has been drawing up military plans for striking Iran for over a year. Earlier this month, the New Yorker magazine’s Seymour Hersh reported that “There has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning.”
U.S. Allegations Against Iran: Lies, Hypocrisy, and a Cover For An Imperial Agenda
What of U.S. charges that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and attacking U.S. forces in Iraq?
First, there’s the enormity of U.S. hypocrisy. The U.S. already has thousands of nuclear warheads, and while the Bush regime condemns Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions, it refuses (in its negotiations with Russia) to accept any limits on the number of nukes the U.S. can build.
The U.S.—not Iran—illegally invaded and occupied Iraq. Yet Bush and company denounce Iran for “interference” in Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. is funding and organizing covert military and political operations inside Iran!
So the imperialist logic at work here is that only the U.S. has the right to threaten the world with nuclear weapons (and have more than anyone else), and to intervene and wage war against other countries.
Second, the U.S. has produced no conclusive evidence for its charges. Secretary of State Rice recently declared that Iran was “lying” about its nuclear program, but she offered no proof. People should remember that these are the same proven liars in the Bush regime who knowingly spread the lie that Saddam Hussein had WMD before the Iraq war.
After many inspections, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. If, however, it is the case that Iran’s reactionary Islamic Republic wants to build nuclear weapons, and they are concealing such a program, who is the U.S. to declare itself the global enforcer of nuclear restraint? The United States is the only country in the world to have used the atomic bomb—twice, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—to massacre civilians. And why does the U.S.’ massive current arsenal of nuclear weapons give it the right to threaten or carry out military aggression against Iran?
And what about Iran’s involvement in attacks on U.S. forces?
The U.S. military has held press conference after press conference displaying Iranian weapons allegedly found in Iraq. But none have provided any firm evidence that these weapons came from Iran, that they were used to attack U.S. forces, or that the Iranian government was directly involved. The captured weapons could have come from old Iraqi stockpiles or the region’s extensive arms black market. Former chief U.S. arms inspector David Kay told Hersh that his team had been astounded at “the huge amounts of arms” it found in Iraq right after the 2003 invasion, including “stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators” or “EFPs.” These are the weapons the U.S. has been claiming could only have come from Iran.
On the other hand, if it is the case that Iran is providing weapons to forces in Iraq, who is the United States, the country that has illegally occupied the whole country, to use Iranian interference in Iraq as a cause for war on Iran? It is as if someone carried out a home invasion robbery, ransacked a home, raped and brutalized the inhabitants, and continued to terrorize the people there. And then, because they suspected that someone else, in the house next door, was trying to steal from the house they were terrorizing, they threatened to go on and attack and carry out another home invasion of the house next door.
Nor is the U.S. being driven by its feigned concern for the very real suffering of the region’s people at the hands of Islamic fundamentalism, Iran’s Islamic Republic in particular. The U.S. sees Islamic fundamentalism as a major obstacle to their ambitions not because the U.S. imperialists have a problem with the repressive and obscurantist program of the Islamic fundamentalists. They work with and through such forces where they can do so in a way that fits their needs. But the problem the U.S. has with the Islamic fundamentalists is that they present a widespread counter-force and threat to what the U.S. is trying to impose on the world, and—to the U.S. imperialists—an intolerable threat to their interests.
Any U.S. Aggression Against Iran Is…
Even if the Iranian regime is attempting to build nuclear weapons, or is behind some of the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, or further intensifies its oppression of the Iranian people—none of this would justify any U.S. war on Iran. Such a war would make things much worse for the people in the region (and the world), including because it would further fuel Islamic fundamentalism and strengthen the current nightmarish framework in which imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism are held forth as humanity’s only choices. Any U.S. war would not be aimed at ending oppression or freeing the people; it would be aimed at perpetuating their enslavement—under a strengthened U.S. domination over the whole region.
This is not to say that the U.S. doesn’t have real—imperialist—concerns about Iran. Far too many people are downplaying the danger of a U.S. attack on Iran because they think Bush is too unpopular to launch another war, or too bogged down in Iraq, or not “crazy” enough to risk a regional conflagration. Or, that the stresses and strains on the U.S. “alliance” (including the withdrawal of British troops from Basra, and the increasing tension between the U.S. on the one hand, and Russia on the other) will deter the U.S. from launching an attack on Iran. Or they think the U.S. is simply making things up about Iran out of sheer arrogance or irrational belligerence.
Bush is certainly unpopular and a proven liar, and the U.S. is definitely bogged down in Iraq. Even many in the ruling class worry that attacking Iran could end up greatly weakening the U.S. position in the Middle East and the world (and these divisions may be one reason war hasn’t yet taken place). And there are both strains in the U.S. “alliance,” and increasing contention with other powers in the region.
But there are actual imperialist necessities and concerns driving the U.S. rulers. And some of the reasons that people don’t believe there will be a war on Iran are actually reasons why the U.S. rulers do see a need to attack Iran. They cannot, for example, just let other powers perceive their alliance as crumbling, and let their rivals of any kind make a move on “their” global domination. They cannot be perceived as having their asses kicked by the Islamic fundamentalists, any more than a big time mobster can let people see a small time gangster get away with defying his authority.
The US “war on terror” is not about ending “terror” as they claim, or “bringing democracy to Iraq” or anywhere else. It is essentially a war for greater empire. This war is focused on defeating Islamic fundamentalism and those who support or fuel it. It’s a war with many targets, employing many means. The Bush regime feels that victory would enable the U.S. to transform the Middle East-Central Asian regions, cut the ground from under anti-U.S. jihadism, and solidify and deepen U.S. control.
For decades, control of the Middle East—for its strategic location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe and its vast oil reserves—has been a key component of America’s imperialist superpower status. Today, the U.S. rulers view the control of these regions as even more critical to perpetuating their status as global overlords, and to the future of their empire and rule at home. So for them, the stakes really are enormous.
It is this agenda, not “stopping terrorism,” that was behind the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, as a springboard to further asserting U.S. domination of the Middle East and crushing, or subordinating, Islamic fundamentalist forces that they perceive to be in their way. But things aren’t going as the Bush regime planned. Iraq has become a potential debacle that is tying down thousands of U.S. troops. Pro-Iranian forces have considerable influence in the Iraqi government. Iranian influence in Iraq is growing (last week Iraq signed a contract with Iran and China to build power plants, much to the Bush administration’s dismay). Islamic fundamentalism has been fueled across the region. As a sharp expression of the point that U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism both oppose and reinforce each other, one product of the ongoing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan has been the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pro-Iranian forces could become dominant in Lebanon. In sum, the geopolitical “playing field” in the Middle East seems to be tilting against the U.S., and Iran stands to be the beneficiary—whether it is directly behind any particular development or not. And a nuclear-armed Iran would be an even bigger obstacle to U.S. regional hegemony and military dominance.
So the U.S. establishment—including both the hardcore around Bush and Cheney as well as the Democrats and others—is largely united on the need to confront Iran and roll back its influence, one way or another. (In a forthcoming article in Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton writes, “If Iran does not comply with its own commitments and the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.”)
For now, the U.S. is at the very least pursuing a full-court press of diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure against Iran designed to force the Islamic Republic to cave in to U.S. demands, and/or to trigger internal upheaval and the regime’s collapse. Britain’s Telegraph reported on September 16, “Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.” And many in and out of the Bush administration—particularly Vice President Dick Cheney and his allies—are aggressively pushing for strikes on Iran, which, according to Hersh, Bush is actively considering even as he claims to be striving for a diplomatic solution.
In any event, should the U.S. full-court press fail—and Putin’s visit to Iran apparently represented a blow to U.S. plans—the rulers may be forced to confront the choice “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” as the saying goes; a choice between seeing Iran emerge strengthened, seriously undercutting their entire “war on terror” and all its objectives, or “escaping forward” by rolling the dice of escalation.
A U.S. war on Iran might not even be a fully conscious, much less unanimous, decision of ruling class strategists. The huge U.S. buildup of warships in the Gulf, along with the presence of U.S. operatives inside Iran, has created a situation where war could break out by accident.
In early September, Israeli aircraft reportedly carried out an attack on Syria, which has a defense treaty with Iran. Commentators speculated on whether, and how, this attack might be connected to an Israeli attack on Iran, including whether Israel was testing new Russian anti-aircraft weapons recently acquired by Syria as part of assessing a possible air route for an Israeli strike on Iran. While Israel has its own distinct agenda, the larger framework for Israeli military aggression (and for the very existence of Israel) is the furtherance of U.S. interests. Israel is financially, politically, and militarily sponsored by the U.S. as its “trigger-happy cop” in the region, and it is highly unlikely that this raid on Syria took place outside overall U.S. strategic planning for a war on Iran. Shortly after the raid, Newsweek magazine reported that former Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group several months ago that Cheney was considering asking Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz. And Newsweek added that a military response by Iran could give Washington an excuse to then launch airstrikes of its own.
But regardless of the “trigger,” regardless of the particular role of Israel, and regardless of whether such a war was the result of an unplanned accident, or a conscious decision, a U.S. war on Iran would be an outgrowth of U.S. aggressive actions. It would still be an expression of U.S. imperial interests. And in the event of such an “accidental” war, even bitter opponents of the Bush regime within the ruling class like Zbigniew Brzezinski—who has said that he thinks such a war would be a disaster—have said that they would feel compelled to support it once begun.
The U.S. rulers have shown in Iraq that they are willing to destroy the lives of millions in pursuit of their reactionary ambitions. Those ambitious are unjust, oppressive, and in the service of a world of exploitation and oppression. They are not the interests of the people of the world, including people in this country, and it is the special responsibility of people in the United States to build a movement to oppose any attempt by the U.S. to attack Iran, under any pretense. The development of such a movement will inspire people all over the world, including in the Middle East, to see beyond the so-called “alternatives” of Islamic fundamentalism and U.S. imperialism.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
PART 1: BEYOND THE NARROW HORIZON OF BOURGEOIS RIGHT
Changes in Society and in People: A Materialist, and Dialectical, Understanding of the Relation Between People’s Conditions and Their Consciousness
Editors’ Note: The following is the second in a series of excerpts from a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA earlier this year (2007). This has been edited for publication and footnotes have been added (among other things, in preparing this for publication, the author has considerably expanded the section on Karl Popper). These excerpts are being published in two parts. Part 1 is available in its entirety, as one document, online at revcom.us. Part 2 will also be available in the near future, as one document, at revcom.us; the excerpts comprising Part 2 will also be published as a series in Revolution after the conclusion of the present series of excerpts.
Changing circumstances, and changing people
I want to broaden out the discussion of human society and its historical development, to provide more a foundation for a scientific understanding of this. What I am going to speak to here relates to and proceeds from longer discussions found in “Views On” and “Basis, Goals and Methods.”1 I’m not going to try to repeat much of what’s said there, but I do want to touch on some of the essential points.
First, I want to talk about the two radical ruptures and their interconnection, their dialectical interplay and mutual influence throughout the development and revolutionary transformation that is involved in the advance to communism. Here, of course, I am referring to what is said in the Communist Manifesto about how the communist revolution represents the radical rupture with all traditional property relations and with all traditional ideas. What’s involved in this—and, in fact, in the development of human society overall—is the back and forth interaction (the dialectical relation) between the forces and relations of production and between the economic base2 on the one hand, and the superstructure of politics and ideology, on the other hand. To put this in other, and more general terms, what is involved is the dialectical relation between material conditions and their transformation, on the one hand, and the thinking of people and its transformation—or, in other words, the back and forth, as Marx once put it, between changing circumstances and changing people, the dialectical interplay of that and the dynamics involved in that.
Now, in this connection, one of the most fundamental things that Marx brought to light—and this is something to which I have spoken in a number of other works3 but which is worth returning to again, because it is at the one and the same time so important and so little understood, and in fact so thoroughly and consistently ignored, where it is not covered over, obfuscated and distorted—is his concentrated presentation of what goes into human society and its development. As opposed to philosophical idealism, Marx brought forward the materialist and dialectical understanding that the most basic and essential of all human activity is the production and reproduction of the material requirements of life, and that people can only carry out the struggle to produce, and reproduce, the material requirements of life by entering into very definite relations of production, and that on the basis of these production relations there arises a definite legal, political and ideological superstructure.
Just think how little understood is this very fundamental point about human society and its historical development—and the basic and overall relation between people’s social being and their social consciousness, as Marx put it. People have all kinds of other views of what constitutes human society and why people come together in society—theories of “social contract” and all other kinds of elaborated intellectual theses (and their popular variations of different kinds). But this fundamental point that Marx brought to light is so little known about, let alone understood. How many times do people talk about “the economy” this, and “the economy” that—as though “the economy” were an abstraction, divorced from people and void of any social relations among people? But in that way you can’t get anywhere near the actual dynamics of what’s going on. This is so profoundly important for us to grasp, but also to propagate in a popularized way—in a way that is accessible to people who are now unfamiliar with all this. It is extremely important to enable masses of people, of all different strata, including the basic masses, to grasp this and related fundamental truths—fundamental analyses and syntheses about society and reality. In any society, people in the most fundamental sense enter into definite social production relations in order for anything to happen—in order for people to eat, in order to make possible all the other things that go on in society. At the foundation of that, as the underlying fundamental relations and dynamics of that, is the fact that people enter into definite social production relations in the process of producing and reproducing the material requirements of life and of society.
And, along with this, the fact is that these social production relations are historically evolved. Once again, it is not a matter of an “ideal society,” of simply realizing someone’s “ideal.” It is not a matter that someone sits around and draws up a blueprint for how society ought to be, and then causes society to fall in line with that blueprint. It is the interaction between necessity and human beings—consciously, or somewhat unconsciously, or a combination of the two—struggling to transform necessity and forge freedom out of that…which brings forward new necessity.
People make history—but on a certain material foundation
Or, to paraphrase another profound—and at the same time widely ignored, or misrepresented and distorted—point that Marx emphasized: People make history—but not any way they want. They do so on the basis of the productive forces and the corresponding production relations which they inherit from preceding generations. Now, of course, this is not a linear development: It involves ruptures and leaps, revolutions in human society, in those times and circumstances when, as Marx pointed out, the production relations have undergone a transformation from being the most appropriate form for the development of the productive forces, into being more a fetter on than an appropriate form for that development. This calls forth social revolutions. This, of course, does not occur in some “automatic” sense, and such revolutions do not occur directly, one to one, with the objective transformation of the production relations (from the most appropriate form for the development of the productive forces, into a fetter on that development). But, when this objective transformation (in the relation between the production relations and the productive forces) has objectively taken place, sooner or later, however much (or little) they may be conscious of this objective transformation, people develop theories and programs and form organizations to resolve this contradiction, which is objectively imposing itself more and more on them. This is what Mao meant when he said that when tools become frustrated, they speak through people: when the productive forces are more being held back than being facilitated, if you will, by the character of the production relations, this calls forth things in the superstructure. It calls forth ideas in the minds of people—ideas about changes in society, about what the problems in society are and how they can be addressed. For much of human history, these ideas were a combination of some understanding, and a great deal of misunderstanding, of what was objectively being called forth, what objective developments were being reflected, however “imperfectly,” in people’s minds. Now we are on a threshold where there can be qualitatively more understanding—not complete understanding, there will always be the contradiction between knowledge and ignorance—but more understanding of what this is about, a more conscious approach to what it is that we’re setting out to do, and why, in terms of transforming the underlying relations as well as the superstructure of society.
It is important to grasp this point that the need for radical change in society gets called forth in the superstructure—in the thinking of people, and then in the political organization of people. People form groups, they form parties with programs and objectives which reflect—reflect not in a reductionist, linear and one-to-one sense, but reflect ultimately—what’s going on in the basic relations in society, in terms, most fundamentally, of the contradiction between the forces and relations of production. This gets reflected more or less consciously in people’s thinking and then in their political organization. And in acting on their ideas, in seeking to bring about change in correspondence with their ideas, they come up against constraints—not only economic but also political constraints—the force of the state and the power relations in society which they have to shatter and transform in order to (once again in relative, not absolute terms) unleash and liberate the productive forces, including the people. This is how societies change in a fundamental and qualitative way—how and why revolutions are called forth and occur, through momentous struggle.
So, while, as Marx explained, the legal, political and ideological superstructure arises on the basis of and corresponds to a given economic base (or mode of production) at any given time, it is also crucial—it is a decisive aspect of a dialectical as well as material understanding and method—to grasp that there is a great deal of initiative (and, if you want to use that term, autonomy) in the superstructure. The superstructure is not merely a linear and mechanical extension of the economic base. Different ideas are formulated by people and a struggle is carried out in the realm of ideas. Different political forces arise and battle it out. Ultimately, this comes down to a battle for power over society. And power, by the way, is not a dirty word. In fact, in the hands of the proletariat, it is a very, very good thing. Power, speaking in political terms, means the ability to implement a program, and most essentially the ability to make decisions affecting the overall course of society, the ability to determine the direction of society.
Now, as I have repeatedly emphasized, this is grounded in a certain material foundation, it is rooted in the fundamental contradictions of society, and the dynamics associated with these fundamental contradictions. But, on the basis of the motion of these contradictions—and the struggle to resolve them in a certain way by taking initiative, more or less consciously, in the superstructure, and specifically in the struggle for political power—it is possible to gain qualitatively new and greater freedom (not absolute freedom, but qualitatively greater freedom) to make radical changes in society. When we talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are talking about power, increasingly residing with the masses of people, to make radical transformations in their interests, and ultimately in the interests of humanity as a whole. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat.
State power—to effect radical changes
Why does the proletariat want power—to use that phrase? Why does it need state power? In order to effect the changes, the radical transformations of society in all spheres, that are in its interests and ultimately are in the interests of humanity as a whole.
These transformations cannot be achieved under the rule of the bourgeoisie, no matter what the form of that rule is. Bourgeois rule may assume the most “wonderfully democratic” form—but it is still the rule of a class whose interests are fundamentally and antagonistically in opposition to the transformations that the masses of people need to carry out in order to have a world in which they can live as human beings and flourish in a fuller sense (not in some metaphysical absolute sense, but in a fuller, qualitatively greater sense). As long as the power over society is in the hands of the bourgeoisie, even with this “clever device” they’ve evolved of elections, the proletariat and the masses of people are prevented from carrying out these changes. This is why we have the truly horrific conditions we have in the world—and all the votes in the world under this system will never change these fundamental things. It’s just as simple and as basic as that. When a monopoly of political power—and, in a concentrated way, the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force—is in the hands of one group in society, and that group excludes others from that monopoly of power and force, then that is a dictatorship of the ruling group—or class—regardless of whether or not that ruling group allows those it excludes from power, and over whom it rules in fact, to take part in elections to vote for different representatives of the ruling class, as happens in the U.S. and a number of other countries. Political rule in the U.S., regardless of whether or not there is an open and undisguised tyranny, is and always has been the a bourgeois dictatorship, a dictatorship of the ruling capitalist class (or, in the early history of the U.S., before the defeat and abolition of the slave system, through the Civil War, what existed was the dictatorship of the ruling classes—the slaveowning as well as the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie).
This is a most fundamental truth, a crucial and essential statement about reality—the reality of on what basis, and in accordance with what defining interests, the society functions. When we get into struggle with people, we have to get to the essence of this. We need a different political system, a different system of political rule, whose objective is the radical transformation of society, on every level and in every dimension. (I will talk further about what that means, and should mean—and what it should not mean—as we go along.)
This series will continue in the next issue of Revolution.
1. See Views on Socialism and Communism: A Radically New Kind of State, A Radically Different and Far Greater Vision of Freedom (which appeared as a series in Revolution #37, #39, #40, #41, #42, and #43, complete version available online at revcom.us/bob_avakian/views) and The Basis, the Goals, and the Methods of the Communist Revolution (which appeared as a series in Revolution #45, #46, #47, #48, #49, #50, complete version available online at revcom.us/Avakian/basis-goals-methods). [back]
2. Footnote by the author: The forces of production (or productive forces) of society refers to the physical components of production—the land, raw materials, machinery and other technology—as well as the people, with their knowledge and skills, etc. The relations of production refers to the relations people enter into in carrying out the process of production in society. The economic base (or the mode of production) consists of the relations of production, corresponding in a basic sense, at any given time, to the character of the productive forces. [back]
3. See, for example, FOR A HARVEST OF DRAGONS: On the “Crisis of Marxism” and the Power of Marxism Now More Than Ever, An Essay Marking the 100th Anniversary of Marx’s Death (Chicago: RCP Publications, 1983); and Phony Communism is Dead…Long Live Real Communism! (Chicago: RCP Publications, First Edition, 1992; Second Edition, 2004). The passage from Marx, which is paraphrased in the text above, is: “In the social production of their existence, men enter into definite, necessary relations, which are independent of their will, namely, relations of production corresponding to a determinate stage of development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation on which there arises a legal and political superstructure and to which there correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life-process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness.” (Marx, Preface and Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy) [back]
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
David Horowitz is a right wing, supposedly “intellectual” hit-man in the forefront of the attack on dissent and critical thinking in academia. He is the author of the October 22–26 so-called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) on campuses around the U.S. and in Israel.
A foundational element in Horowitz’s agenda is his demand that academia rule out of order and suppress the investigation of, or the teaching of, the truth about the horrors of slavery and the present-day oppression of African Americans. This needs to be called out, exposed, and refuted in the course of this “Week.”
In early 2001 Horowitz published an ad in campus newspapers around the country that attacked the campaign calling for reparations. The demand for reparations is a demand for compensation to African Americans for the impact of slavery and its aftermath. The call for reparations demands the acknowledgment of the tremendous economic and social inequalities that are the legacy of slavery, and of the ongoing discrimination African Americans confront today.
The content of Horowitz’s ad, “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery Is a Bad Idea—and Racist Too,” reveals the agenda, and the method of thinking, of a modern-day apologist for slavery. And the defense of the extreme inequality, racism, and national oppression facing African Americans today. In his ad (which he continues to defend), Horowitz makes essentially four points in his attack on the demand for reparations:
First, Horowitz claims that “Black Africans and Arabs were responsible for enslaving the ancestors of African-Americans,” not the white European traders and the system behind them that benefited vastly from the ferocious exploitation of African slaves.
And Horowitz says that the “claim that all African-Americans suffer from the economic consequences of slavery and discrimination” is “unsubstantiated.” He even claims that, in spite of a tremendous amount of documentation, “No scientific attempt has been made to prove that living individuals have been adversely affected by a slave system that was ended nearly 150 years ago.”
Horowitz also claims that the demand for reparations sends a “damaging message” and promotes a “renewed sense of grievance” when the real problem is that “Blacks can’t seem to locate the ladder of opportunity.”
And finally, Horowitz’s ad claims that “Reparations to African-Americans have already been paid” in the form of “welfare benefits and racial preferences” for Black people.
For all this, Horowitz claims that African-Americans “owe a debt” to America. And he demands “where’s the gratitude” for all this!
In this article, I’m going to respond to these claims.
Who Benefited from Slavery?
Horowitz’s ad says, “Black Africans and Arabs were responsible for enslaving the ancestors of African-Americans.” Here, as is typical of his demagogic method, Horowitz focuses on tidbits of reality, or makes them up, in the service of a great lie. While the procurement of slaves by the European and American slave traders involved some Africans and Arabs, the group that benefited on an almost unimaginable level from slavery was the slaveowners to whom the slaves were sold. And the whole system of capitalism that arose and throve on the vicious exploitation of African slaves.
The vast wealth generated by slaves in the United States benefited not just the slave owners in the South but also the capitalists of the North, with whom they had a contentious but integrated relationship that was at the foundation of the United States. The massive wealth, literally beaten out of the backs of slaves, played a crucial role not just in the agricultural economy of the South but in the textile and other industries of the North (see Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank).
Further, white supremacy, and the economic, political, and cultural expressions of that, permeate and are foundational to everything the United States has been, and is about. Not all whites owned slaves. Not all Blacks were enslaved during the period of slavery. But the fact is that slavery determined the character of the entire society during that period, especially but not only in the South. So even whites who weren’t slave owners found their place within and benefited from that society, including as part of the enforcement of that system. A whole social order arose on this foundation. Morality, values, and a psychology of white supremacy were preached in the churches, taught in the schools, and embedded and enforced in a myriad of ways.
Slavery and the Plunder of Africa
According to Horowitz’s anti-reparations ad, “The claim for reparations is premised on the false assumption that only whites have benefited from slavery. If slave labor has created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves. The GNP of black America makes the African-American community the tenth most prosperous ‘nation’ in the world. American blacks on average enjoy per capita incomes in the range of twenty to fifty times that of blacks living in any of the African nations from which they were kidnapped.”
None of Horowitz’s figures in this ad are sourced, and no one should accept any of his quantitative claims on their face. Yet it is true that African Americans today, while subjected to tremendous inequality, and suffering all-around national and racist oppression, for the most part do have a much higher per capita income than do black Africans. In Horowitz’s twisted mind this is something that African Americans should see as a benefit of the legacy of slavery.
This is another way of arguing that because people in Africa are even more brutally and viciously exploited and impoverished than African Americans, African Americans should feel grateful. By that obscene logic, people living in Africa today should feel grateful that they weren’t almost completely exterminated, in the way a huge percentage of the Native peoples in North America were killed.
The inequality between African Americans (and other people living outside of Africa) and Africans today—expressed by large parts of Africa being racked by wars, starvation, and the AIDS crisis—is inseparable from the legacy of the way in which Africa, both the parts where the slaves where stolen and other parts of Africa, has been ravaged by colonialism and imperialism.
Just the enslavement of the native population in the Congo by King Leopold of Belgium and his rubber industry at the end of the 18th century led to the death and mutilation of as many as ten million Africans (see “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, by Adam Hochschild).
And the United States has a long “tradition” of being neck deep in the plunder of Africa. Working closely with the notorious white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, the U.S. backed “contra” style forces in Angola and Mozambique in the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s. These U.S.-backed forces carried out massacres and systematically sabotaged the infrastructure of these countries, bringing tremendous suffering and death. All in the service of creating a secure corridor around South Africa, where the indigenous African people were rebelling against vicious exploitation.
Or, look at the plunder of Nigeria by U.S. and European oil monopolies, enforced by a succession of murderous neo-colonial regimes. Ken Saro-Wiwa was a community leader of the Ogoni people of eastern Nigeria. He accused Shell Oil of participating in the genocide of the Ogoni people. In 1995, the Nigerian regime hung Ken Saro-Wiwa. Collaboration between foreign oil companies and Nigeria’s government death squads is overt and documented: In an interview with Democracy NOW!, a Chevron official admitted that on May 28, 1998, the company transported Nigerian soldiers to their Parabe oil platform and barge in the Niger Delta, which dozens of community activists had occupied. Soon after landing in Chevron-leased helicopters, the Nigerian military shot to death two protesters.
The capitalist-imperialist system victimized Africans twice—first, by kidnapping and killing literally millions in the slave trade that fueled the expansion of capitalism; and second, by pitilessly plundering and exploiting Africa itself for four centuries. And of this, David Horowitz has the nerve to say that African Americans should celebrate that their incomes are higher than those of people in Africa!
Horowitz’s ad asserts: “No scientific attempt has been made to prove that living individuals have been adversely affected by a slave system that was ended nearly 150 years ago. But there is plenty of evidence that the hardships of slavery were hardships that individuals could and did overcome.”
Here, Horowitz acts like the end of slavery was followed by a revolutionary transformation of all society, where immediately Black people attained basic equality with whites in income, education, health care, political participation and so on, and then, wave after wave, further revolutionary transformations in society unleashed further breaking down of the historic inequality and oppression of Black people. But no such thing happened. Instead, the oppression of Black people took new forms.
There have been many studies attempting to quantify the theft of income and wealth created by Black labor over the past fifteen generations. According to David H. Swinton, President of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, one researcher has calculated that the 1983 value of the slave labor expropriated by whites from 1620 to 1865 ranges from nearly $1 trillion to as much as $97 trillion, depending on the rate of interest chosen for the long intervening period. (See Swinton’s essay cited by Joe Feagin in “Documenting the Costs of Slavery, Segregation, and Contemporary Racism: Why Reparations Are in Order for African Americans,” Harvard Blackletter Law Journal, vol. 20, 2004).
Another research study estimated the cost of labor market discrimination for 1929-1969 (1983 dollars) at $1.6 trillion. (These figures are based on calculating the gross value of the production of the Black population of the U.S. at the time, and the interest that wealth would have accrued between then and now.)
An unbroken chain runs through the different forms under which Black people have been oppressed in this country. After the Civil War ended slavery, the short-lived period of Reconstruction initially promised equality to the freed slaves. That promise was betrayed. Serf-like, semi-feudal conditions not that different from slavery were imposed, enforced with terroristic attacks on anyone who fled. This post-slavery oppression inherited many of the elements of slavery, with Black people working as virtual slaves for Southern plantation owners who in many cases were former slave owners. The master’s whip was replaced with Ku Klux Klan lynchings that were so widespread that one psychologist who studied African Americans in the South during that period said, every African American, particularly those living in the South, in effect lived under a death sentence that might or might not be carried out. And these lynchings were so overtly supported by law enforcement authorities that they were sometimes advertised in advance, and celebrated in postcards showing the lynch mob and the victim.
The next great betrayal of Black people took place when, as a result of changes in the world and the U.S. economy, the labor-intensive work they did in southern agriculture was mechanized. There developed a need for cheap, viciously exploited labor in the packing houses, factories, steel mills, foundries and construction sites in the cities—especially but not only in the North. As Black people migrated to the cities, powerful movements for equality broke out. The civil rights movement and the Black liberation movements arose through the 1950s and 1960s. Along with this, changes in the way the U.S. was imposing neo-colonialism on the third world created a compulsion for the rulers of the U.S. to appear different than the old-style colonial powers. In the midst of societal upheaval, small concessions were made to Black people. Overt, officially sanctioned “separate but equal” school segregation was ruled unconstitutional. Some social programs (Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”) attempted, on a very small scale, to provide openings into the middle class. Some social welfare programs were implemented. These are the things that Horowitz counts as part of the debt Black people owe America!
But then, even these small-scale concessions were reversed. African Americans were again betrayed. Today Black people —particularly those locked in the inner cities—are denied employment both by the workings of the capitalist system and by the conscious policies of the rulers. They are discriminated against where they do get employment, and discriminated against in every tier of society in a continuing way. The Supreme Court recently put a stamp of approval on this when it—in essence—reversed the “Brown vs. Board of Education” ruling that mandated school integration in many school districts.
Where’s the Gratitude?
Horowitz’s anti-reparations ad demands: “What about the Debt Blacks Owe to America?” “If not for the sacrifices of white soldiers and a white American president…blacks in America would still be slaves,” denied “…the greatest freedoms, and the most thoroughly protected individual rights anywhere. Where is the acknowledgment of black America and its leaders for those gifts?”
Only the crudest apologist for slavery could argue that a people whose ancestors were enslaved for 250 years owe a debt to those who enslaved them for the fact that their enslavement was finally ended! Horowitz’s anti-reparations ad ignores the major and heroic role of African Americans themselves in fighting against slavery. There were over 200 slave revolts, including the ones led by Nat Turner in Virginia and Denmark Vesey in South Carolina. The ad fails to mention that nearly 200,000 Blacks fought in the Union army, at half the pay of white soldiers, and one out of every five (almost 40,000) gave their lives in this fight (the casualty rate for Black Union soldiers was double that of whites). Horowitz turns reality on its head when he calls “gifts” the basic rights that people in fact had to fight and die to achieve.
Lies in Service of White Supremacy = Racism
Horowitz chafes at being called a racist. But he is a racist — that is to say, he is a systematic apologist for white supremacy. It’s not an insult, it’s a scientific term to describe the ideology that Horowitz has dedicated himself to promoting. Worse yet, he is not ignorant of the history and present-day conditions of Black people—he lies about them because acknowledging the reality of white supremacy—then and now—would undermine, in his words, “America’s conception of itself as a beacon of freedom.”
Horowitz’s book Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery presents a composite speech that he gave at UC Berkeley and other colleges around the country in defense of his anti-reparations ad. In that speech, Horowitz actually acknowledges that: “Slavery was a crime against humanity, and is a blot on the American record. I fully support reparations for former slaves and their children. Unfortunately they are no longer with us. Even though no payment can make up for the injury of slavery, American slaves should have been compensated when they were freed. Instead, they were even denied the forty acres and a mule they had been promised. This was a betrayal, as were the years of segregation and discrimination that followed.” (my emphasis).
But then, in the same book, Horowitz reveals both an agenda of whitewashing all this, and an accompanying methodology of extreme and bizarre “political truth.” A methodology of “never-mind the truth, what matters is what serves my political agenda.” He writes that, despite his own earlier admission that Black people’s struggle to overcome “the injury of slavery” was betrayed again and again, “Anyone should be able to see that the reparations claim is really a prescription for racial division and ethnic strife” (p. 39).
Near the end of Uncivil Wars, Horowitz reveals this “logic” overtly: “In making a case against reparations, I was taking sides on an issue that was integral to the ‘culture war,’ a schism that has polarized and embittered debate in America for nearly half a century...an argument over the meaning of American history and the nation’s identity itself. Since the 1960s, the ‘tenured radicals’ have waged a ferocious assault on America’s conception of itself as a beacon of freedom… A nation conceived in liberty is newly described as ‘a nation conceived in slavery.’” (Uncivil Wars, p. 105.)
What Horowitz is saying here, in essence, is that “America’s conception of itself as a beacon of freedom” cannot survive a critical examination of the reality of its own history. And more fundamentally, America will not, and cannot, DO anything about the reality of what that history has wrought. So history itself must be rewritten to conform to this agenda. An agenda consistent with the waves of denial that have greeted the hanging of nooses from a “whites only” tree outside a high school in Jena, Louisiana.
To confront and come to terms with the reality of slavery and everything that it has wrought requires confronting that slavery has been crucial to the accumulation of the tremendous wealth that underpins this country’s global dominance. And it would also mean confronting that the racist inequalities and oppressive conditions of African Americans today are an inescapable part of that same historic legacy. White supremacy and the oppression of Black people is so fundamental to the way this society is held together that the rulers of this country could not do anything about this even if they wanted to. Confronting such truths means confronting that white supremacy and the oppression of Black people are integral to this system, and that only a revolution that gets rid of capitalism can end white supremacy and national oppression.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
Reply to Heather Mac Donald on “Black-on-Black” Crime
Heather Mac Donald is a high-powered “authority” on criminal justice and crime. She has clerked for federal judges, written editorials in major newspapers, and testified before Congress. She has ties to former New York City Mayor, now Republican presidential frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani, and her ideological and political views back his agenda. Mac Donald is a frequent “expert” commentator on Fox News and CNN.
In the wake of the historic Free the Jena 6 protest in Jena, LA on September 20, Mac Donald wrote “The Jena Dodge,” an intellectualization of the backlash that was unleashed in the wake of the Jena protests, arguing that even if the Jena 6 were victims of racist and unequal “justice,” the problem in America is not the criminalization of Black people, but out-of-control Black criminals. This article in the City Journal (9/25/07) is posted on FrontPage—the website of David Horowitz, who is leading a reactionary assault on critical thinking in academia.
Unequal “Justice” and Criminalization
Mac Donald targets what she calls an “army of racial victimologists and their media enablers,” saying Jena 6 supporters are dodging the real problem facing Black people—crime and specifically the criminal element among Black people. She says:
“But even if the worst possible interpretation of these events (surrounding the case of the Jena 6) is merited, the massive international attention to this tiny town would seem vastly disproportionate to the cause, unless Jena stands for a more widespread problem. The idea behind the protests and the politicians’ exploitation of them is that just as these five youths were overcharged, the hundreds of thousands of blacks in prison are also the victims of systemic abuse. But for institutional racism, the black prison population would be much smaller.”
Mac Donald then claims, “This is an old complaint, for which no proof has ever been offered.”
But in fact, proof has been offered. Over and over. To take one example that Mac Donald herself cites (after claiming there is no proof of institutional racism in law enforcement): “The usual evidence in support of the charge that the criminal laws discriminate against blacks is the far stiffer sentences for selling and possessing crack cocaine compared with powdered cocaine.”
Studies do show that people arrested for crack—usually poor and Black—are convicted more often and do much more time than those arrested for powder cocaine use—usually better-off white people. But while this is clearly an example of racial discrimination, Mac Donald says this is because the system cares more about Black people (!!)—that such unequal sentencing is “a heartfelt effort to protect the overwhelmingly black victims of crack, not to penalize them.” Not penalize them!!! The system’s racist “war on drugs” is a big reason so many Black people are in prison. More Blacks are sent to state prison for drug offenses (38 percent) than for crimes of violence (27 percent). (Human Rights Watch, 2003)
And numerous studies show that systematic discrimination and racism do in fact result in an “unequal justice” of harsher sentences, higher incarceration rates, and rampant police harassment, brutality, and murder. To cite a few examples:
* A study in Pennsylvania found when factors like severity of offense and criminal record were similar, “white men aged 18-29 were 38% less likely to be sentenced to prison than Black men of the same age group.” (The Sentencing Project, “Racial Disparity in Sentencing: A review of the literature,” 2005)
* African Americans constitute 13 percent of all monthly drug users, but 35 percent of arrests for drug possession, 55 percent of convictions, and 74 percent of prison sentences. (The Sentencing Project, “Drug Policy and the Criminal Justice System,” April 2001)
* Black youth are four times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated for the same offense. For drug offenses, Black youth are 48 times more likely and Latino youth nine times more likely than white youth to get locked up. (See: “America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline,” Children’s Defense Fund report)
And what about the systematic CRIMINALIZATION of Black youth, which Mac Donald doesn’t even address? Police profiling of Black youth—stopping and harassing them routinely for simply being out on the street with their friends. DWB (Driving While Black) stops as a daily condition of life for millions of Black people. Schools turned into prisons where youth are constantly treated like suspects and perps. Three strikes laws that unjustly send youth to prison for decades, sometimes the rest of their lives.
* In 1954, 98,000 Black people were locked up in prisons. 50 years later, in 2004, this figure is 910,000—nearly ten times as many.
* Over half a million people were stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2006, more than 1300 a day. Reason most often given by police: “they were in a high crime area,” or “they fit the description of a suspect.” 55.2% of those stopped were Black, 30% were Latino. Less than 10% resulted in an arrest or summons. The police routinely stop Black youth for little or no reason at all—pulling them out of their cars, subjecting them to the cruel and humiliating ritual of “assuming the position,” getting down on their knees, and “kissing the pavement.” Such “routine stops” not only aim to demean and break people’s spirits—they can easily, in a second, lead to yet another case of police brutality and murder.
* From 1995 to 2000, there were almost 10,000 cases of police use of excessive force reported in the U.S.; African Americans made up 47.5 percent of them.
Mac Donald rationalizes and upholds discrimination and white supremacy by putting out the lie that America has “shed its racist past.” She says: “The opportunities for blacks to roar ahead in the economy if they stay out of trouble, study, and apply themselves are legion, but the numbers taking advantage of these opportunities are not.”
But what does it show about the actual opportunities for Black youth to “roar ahead” in the economy when study after study shows discrimination in hiring practices? A Milwaukee study had Black and white applicants interview for the same jobs, reporting similar educational and employment backgrounds. Employers were twice as likely to call back white applicants with no criminal records as Black applicants with no criminal records. And they were MORE likely to call back whites who said they had criminal backgrounds than Blacks who reported no criminal records! In another study, two job applicants with comparable credentials, Greg Kelly and Jamal Jones, responded in writing to help wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. Jamal was 50% less likely to be given an initial interview because of his Black-sounding name.
And in just about every aspect of society—jobs, health care, housing, education, etc., study after study shows persistent and widening discrimination and inequalities. (For extensive examples of this, see The Covenant with Black America, edited by Tavis Smiley.)
Mac Donald’s Bad Methodology
But what about the heart of Mac Donald’s argument that “It is not racism that puts black men in jail, it’s their own behavior.”
The argument here is basically: There is high crime among Black people so the problem is the Black criminals who are committing this crime. This circular argument doesn’t explain or shed light on anything! It begs the question: WHY is crime so high among Black people? WHY are so many Black youth involved in crime? Mac Donald wants to start in the middle of the story. She refuses to look at the whole history of how and why things got to this point to begin with. She only looks at the effects and symptoms, not the reasons and causes.
To really understand “Black on Black crime”—and to really understand this problem, as well as the solution—we have to step back and get a materialist understanding of the bigger picture. What are the economic and social factors behind this phenomenon? The workings of the system impose all kinds of things on people, putting them in situations with a diminishing menu of bad and even worse choices. And then the system (and people like Bill Cosby) blames the people themselves for the conditions that the system has imposed on people to begin with.
It’s not that there are all these Black youth who are somehow “naturally” attracted to a life of crime and violence. We’re not talking about a community with HIGH rates of employment that are involved in criminal activity. No, there are huge economic and social factors that have made such a “choice”—which is really hardly a choice at all—the rational way to try and survive. Conservative writer Edward Luttwak, citing the fact that many Black youth will never find jobs throughout their lifetime, concluded that for many of these youth crime was a “rational choice”! (Turbo-Capitalism)
We have to look at the effects of the further and extreme globalization of the capitalist system over the last 50 years. The accumulation of capital, the ways in which capitalism exploits people, has gone through some big changes. And this has meant that the capitalist system doesn’t need Black proletarians in the same way it did in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. To the system, huge sections of poor Black people are now considered expendable. And all of this cannot be separated from, but in fact is the ground upon which “Black on Black crime” is a huge phenomenon.
Deindustrialization and Diminishing Options
Over the last couple of decades, there have been huge transformations in the way capitalists in the U.S. accumulate capital. Production and assembly is outsourced to factories all over the world. Technological developments mean many jobs require more training, education, and skills. And all kinds of jobs have just been wiped out by technological change.
There is the further and extreme globalization of production—where the constant chase for higher profits encompasses a global labor market. Black unskilled workers looking for jobs are now up against the fact that the capitalists can super-exploit immigrants or take their whole operation overseas. The system pits Black workers against immigrants in a “competition” over who will be exploited. And companies looking for cheaper and more “obedient” workers hire immigrants who, because of their desperate and precarious situation, accept extremely low wages and horrendous work conditions.
At the lower end of the U.S. workforce you have a situation where there is extreme competition for low-paying, high turnover jobs—jobs that are dead-end and offer no prospects of any advancement. For millions of Black workers, this has meant drastically diminishing job opportunities. And for a huge section of Black people, especially the youth, the doors to any kind of job—and any kind of decent future—have been simply slammed shut.
U.S. cities have been deindustrialized—jobs have shifted out of urban areas to the suburbs or to other parts of the world. Three million factory jobs have been lost in the U.S. since the end of 2000. And this has had a profound impact on inner-city Black neighborhoods. In the decades after World War 2, millions of Black people migrated from the South to cities around the country where they were able to get industrial jobs. For example, in the auto industry, 550,000 workers produced 3 million cars in 1947 and 750,000 workers turned out 8 million cars a year in 1972. By 1970 about one-fifth of all Detroit auto plant employees were Black, most of them young and male. There was blatant discrimination—just about all superintendents, foremen, and skilled tradesmen were white. But the auto industry, as well as other industries, did provide Black workers with jobs and a certain entry level ladder which could mean a certain level of job stability, training, and even mobility to higher paid positions.
Such jobs have basically disappeared from the cities. And what has this meant for millions of Black people? Think about what the options are for a 20-year-old Black man in Chicago or Detroit. There are hardly any decent paying jobs for low-skilled workers. Inner-city schools don’t provide real job training. If you’ve ever been locked-up, there’s a good chance you’ll be locked-out of the job market. There are some manufacturing jobs in the suburbs. But housing discrimination makes it hard for Black people to move to these communities. There is no good public transportation to get to these jobs, even if you could get one. And if you try to drive to such a job, you’d constantly get stopped by the cops for DWB and being in a white neighborhood. A lot of jobs are just gone—factories that used to be in U.S. cities have moved to other countries where they can pay workers incredibly low wages.
And there is another factor in this picture of employers not wanting to hire Black people. There’s a certain rebelliousness and defiance that’s developed historically among Black people. And a lot of racist employers won’t hire what they consider to be potential “Black troublemakers.” It’s not that people don’t want to work. But they don’t want to work for chump change. They don’t want to take a lot of racist and demeaning shit from the boss, other workers, or customers. Thomas Rush, an airline skycap, put it this way: “I look at everybody at eye level. I neither look down nor up. The day of the shuffle is gone.” A 1989-90 study of hiring in Chicago found that many employers “dismissed young black job seekers as too poor, uneducated and temperamentally ill suited for the rigors of modern office work.” (Rush quote and Chicago study cited in American Work—Four Centuries of Black and White Labor by Jacqueline Jones)
Job opportunities for Black youth today are worse than they were two generations ago. The jobs available to this 20-year-old are more likely to be at a fast food restaurant, a parking lot, or the Wal-Mart—jobs that are unstable, minimum wage, with no prospects of training or advancement. The boss treats you like you’re expendable. Such jobs are not only demeaning, but no one can survive on them. And they are certainly not a “way out” of poverty. This is what is meant by “crime is a rational choice.”
Look at the example of the Black community of Camden, New Jersey in the mid 1990s. It lost the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Campbell Soup factory and a number of electronics companies. The jobless rate rose to 20 percent, and two-thirds of the residents were on public assistance. In 1995 the city had the highest murder rate in any urban area in New Jersey. Lonnie Watkins, a Camden resident, noted: “Long as there’s no jobs, people going to deal drugs. And if that’s how you make your living, then you protect your business any way you can, know what I mean?” (American Work)
People want to work—just look at the fact that whenever one of these big box stores opens in a city or some big hotel announces job openings, thousands and thousands of Black people line up to apply. Recently in Newark, New Jersey the Prudential Center Arena advertised 1200 jobs available—janitors, bartenders, cooks and other, mostly part-time positions that don’t include any benefits. The first day, September 6, over 3,000 people, overwhelmingly Black people, lined up for blocks, looking for a job.
The “prison-ization” of the Black community also contributes to “Black on Black” crime. The huge numbers of Black people going into, and then in some cases coming out of a prison system where guards and administrators set up “gladiator” type fights between inmates, and where a culture of do or die is enforced by the prison system that then sends people back into the cities inculcated with that system mentality, resulting in people shooting each other over nothing—which is an expression of what the system has done to them. And then there are instances of the police themselves promoting “Black on Black crime” and sabotaging efforts to stop it. One organizer of the gang truces after the 1992 L.A. Rebellion told an interviewer, “They’re always hollerin’ about ‘We need to stop all this violence,’ and then all these young people start joinin’ the gang truce and the first thing the police do is attack. The establishment attacks the truce…’ ”
And there are other intersecting social factors that enter into this whole picture. Government cutbacks of all kinds of social services. The deterioration of schools. The lack of recreational centers and after school programs. The persistence of highly segregated and unequal communities. All of this is NOT something of people’s own doing and NOT an aspect of life that Black people “choose.” These things are part of a whole economic and social structure that limits the actual options and choices that Black people have. And this all contributes to a situation where crime is a “rational choice.”
This is no “choice” at all for millions of Black youth. The system puts millions of Black youth in a hopeless, worsening situation where they are pushed to the edge by daily desperation and humiliation—which explodes in misplaced rage against one another and against other people in the Black community.
And then the media, schools, politicians, and churches constantly dog, degrade, and dehumanize Black youth—sending them a message that they aren’t worth anything and that society has no place for them.
Transforming the World and the People
Mac Donald refuses to acknowledge the fact that “Black on Black crime” is a horrendous crime generated by the workings of the system itself. She refuses to discuss the deeper structural causes behind crime in the Black community. She refuses to talk about how millions of Black youth are locked out of any kind of jobs, stuck in segregated, deteriorating neighborhoods where social services, if they existed at all, have disappeared, where police murder and brutality run rampant, where prison-like schools send youth the message that they are hopeless and have no future.
It is messed up and maddening that so many Black youth are in a situation where they are forced to prey on each other. But Heather Mac Donald could care less about that—she is only interested in defending, continuing, and reinforcing the very system that consigns and constrains these youth to such a hopeless future. And like others who blame the masses for the horrors of this system—or who apologize for it—she has no answer either.
In a socialist society, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the masses of people will be fully involved in figuring out and working through in an all-round way, how to revolutionize every aspect of society. All the exploitative and degrading economic and social relations and ideas under capitalism—including everything that produces “Black on Black crime”—will be dug up, struggled against and gotten rid of. And it is in this process of emancipating all of humanity—that the masses of people will be able to revolutionize and transform the world and themselves. This is a society and a life worth living and dying for. That is the “positive” answer to this horrendous thing of “Black on Black crime.”
And this is the challenge that has to be presented to the youth who face this horrible situation—to get out of preying on each other and get into fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. The massive march to free the Jena 6 was an opening to challenge people in just this kind of way. This is one reason people like Heather Mac Donald attack it so viciously. And this is also a reason why those who want real and fundamental change should go further in fighting this battle and linking it to the struggle for revolution.
American Work—Four Centuries of Black and White Labor by Jacqueline Jones (1999)
The Covenant with Black America, edited by Tavis Smiley (2006)
Black Picket Fences—Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class by Mary Pattillo-McCoy (2000)
When Work Disappears—The World of the New Urban Poor by William Julius Wilson (1997)
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
From a distributor of the paper in Washington, D.C.
Over 100 angry people rallied at the main police station in Washington, D.C. Friday, October 19, in response to what many are calling an “execution style” murder of 14-year-old DeOnte Rawlings, a Black youth shot down by an off-duty cop on September 17.
Organized by the African Liberation Organization and Cease Fire-Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters, many other groups and individuals joined the rally. DeOnte’s father, Charles, and sister both spoke in tears, calling on the people to step up the fight for justice. “This could be your baby,” Charles screamed out. “This has to stop now!”
Victims of police brutality spoke, as well as older activists who recalled the Black Panther days. Reverend Lennox Yearwood told people, “No more will they get away with killing our Black babies, NO MORE!”
The autopsy report revealed that DeOnte was shot in the back of the head and that his body had suffered severe multiple injuries from beating. The cops claim he took their motorbike, but they also claimed he shot at them and no gun has been found.
“Will your child be the next victim of these assassins with badges?” one organizer asked. Another speaker said, “They are not going to be allowed to cover up anymore. We are demanding, not requesting, Justice.”
People spoke about slavery in this country, about the battle to free the Jena 6, about the immoral war, about the prisons being filled with Black and brown people, and about the criminalization of a whole generation.
Many people held a copy of the statement sent to this event by Carl Dix and they urged me to get up at the rally and deliver his message. People yelled in agreement at parts. Carl’s message ended with these words:
“It’s gonna take a revolution, millions of people rising up to get rid of all this shit once and for all—to stop this oppression and brutality, stop their wars and everything else foul they bring down on people here and around the world. This kind of revolution can only be made when the system is deep in crisis and millions of people are conscious of the need for this kind of change and determined to fight for it. …If we don’t resist, they’ll grind us down till we’re beaten and broken. We have to build resistance to their attacks. That’s why what you’re doing here is so important.
“That’s also why it’s very important that on this coming Monday, October 22nd, people in dozens of cities across the country will take to the streets as part of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. On this day, people who are forced to live their lives under the guns and billy clubs of brutal police will have a platform to tell of the devastation they’ve suffered. And many others from different parts of society will stand with them in calling for an end to this official brutality.”
Many people, including lots of youth, read the latest copy of Revolution as the rally continued. The poster on the back, “Danger—Police in Area,” attracted the attention of many. I heard one conversation between a youth and a young man in his 30s.
“Do you know what this newspaper is about?” he asked the youth. “Communism is the opposite of capitalism. It’s about getting rid of everything that’s wrong about this system. You need to educate yourself, my young man...this newspaper is deep. It tells you the truth.”
Then, suddenly, drums and chants of “No Justice No Peace,” were heard, getting louder and louder, as over 100 people, approached the rally and joined in. These anti-globalization youth were in D.C. to protest the meeting of the IMF and World Bank being held October 19-21. They had been at a demonstration against the ICE raids earlier in the day. When they heard about the rally protesting the murder of DeOnte, they came over in an act of determined solidarity.
Many of them told me they want to be part of fighting for everyone, against every injustice, to create a better world. They said all of our struggles are linked together. The march from the police station to the Department of Justice was spirited, with people of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds in the streets together, most wearing black as the rally organizers had called for. There was an uplifting sense of great solidarity and of the strength of our movements coming together, a new thing for almost everyone.
Several of us carried a banner reading: “Justice for DeOnte! Stop Police Brutality; Stop repression; Stop Criminalization of a Generation...October 22.”
As the October 22 Revolution editorial states: “...We must build on these beginning shoots of struggle. On October 22, people need to come together, and rise above the way people are played by the system and set against each other...”
In front of the DOJ, a young African American brother addressed the people. “When all of you joined with us, it made me wanna cry. This is what we need, but never see it happening. I implore all of you, inform yourselves about the ICE raids, about all of the injustices...we need collective knowledge of each other’s struggles.”
Another speaker got up and said, “we need to tear down the old rotten system and build up a new one. One where all this brutality has to be stopped.”
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
This article originally appeared in issue #99 of Revolution, in the Special Back-to-School supplement. It is being reprinted because of the controversy and struggle over the "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," and on the occasion of the October 27 antiwar demonstrations.
College should be a time and a place to learn about the world…to go from the galactic to the microscopic, to learn of different cultures and art forms, to get into philosophy and history and questions of meaning and of truth…to explore things that have been kept from you, to plunge into the exciting process of discovery…to meet people from different parts of the world and different perspectives…to stretch social and political boundaries and to get into different scenes.
It’s supposed to be a time to stay up all night talking, making music, reading poetry…to be part of resisting and rebelling against everything that is wrong…to make a statement about who you want to be and what kind of world you want to live in…to look at the world as it really is, and to begin to forge your role in relation to it….
But you are doing this at a time when all this is being reined in, when powerful forces are trying to shut it down…precisely because discovering how the past has shaped the present, coming to grips with how your life will shape the future, and seeing how all of this is bound up with and will influence the lives of billions around the world has higher stakes now than probably ever before.
The World You Come To
You didn’t carve up the earth with manmade borders, subjugate whole peoples, drive millions from their families and homelands in a desperate search for work in the leaner and meaner globalized economy—but you can’t escape the fact that the clothes on your back, the food you eat, the roads you drive on, the computers you use were all made through this global system of capitalist exploitation and plunder, including of millions of children literally chained to machines working 12, 14, 16 hours a day.
You didn’t rip up the earth’s beautiful landscapes and burn its fossil fuels, sending towers of filthy smoke billowing into the skies, to feed the cutthroat competition of capitalist corporations…you didn’t decide that beef cattle for the cancerous spread of fast food chains around the world was worth massive deforestation and displacement of indigenous peoples…that concern about the extinction of species and the melting of the ice caps should be ridiculed by government and major media—but you are now inheriting a world teetering dangerously close to destruction.
It was not your hands that chained millions of Africans in slave ships across the murderous Middle Passage, that sold children out of their mothers’ arms on auction blocks, that saddled up with the night-riding KKK and dragged Black people from their homes, or shot them down in urban streets when they dared to rebel or even walked with a little bit of pride—but you live each day in a country whose wealth flows directly from the veins of those slaves and whose deep-rooted racism is alive and well in its murderous response to Hurricane Katrina and the racial cleansing of New Orleans since.
You weren’t the ones cheering and waving the U.S. flag as nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating hundreds of thousands in slow and agonizing deaths as flesh hung from their bodies and their cities burned and burned and burned around them—but you live in the country that did this, the country that stockpiles more nukes than any other, the country that is threatening to use these weapons of mass death preemptively.
It wasn’t you who first enshrined the idea that women’s only value was as breeders of children, helpmeets of men, or objects of sexual plunder…
you aren’t the patriarchs who enshrined these ideas in the religious texts of every major religion—but you are living at a time when no woman in any corner of the globe grows up free of the fear or the reality of being raped, brutalized, mutilated, disrespected, or owned, and religious fundamentalist subjugation of women is on the rise everywhere.
And no, it wasn’t you who sanctioned the Presidency of George Bush, who with his unjust and immoral wars waged for empire, his fascist remaking of U.S. society, and his Dark Ages religious fundamentalism has taken this imperialist society into even more extreme, repressive, and rapacious directions—but even as you read this, there are innocent people being chained to ceilings, stripped naked, and tortured in your name.
Let’s face it—you, like everyone else, have had your circumstance largely determined by forces beyond your control. It would be easy to hide behind this. Without a doubt, there are options and rationales being held out there for you to “do for yourself” or maybe “just do your part.” But whether you chose it or not, all of these crimes have been laid at your doorstep and what you do—or don’t do—will shape the circumstances and lives of millions and millions of people around the planet for generations to come.
You have laid out before you the promise of the possibility of achievement, of personal acquisition, of a place at the table and comforts and safety and “protection” and all the rest. You can use your education, your talents, your creativity, your ambitions to run this hamster wheel, to scarf up as much as you can from high up on the global economic “food chain,” and to do as those who enforce this whole system of global plunder are hoping you will….
Or, you can refuse to be confined by narrow horizons. You can resist. You can challenge unjust authority, you can expose the government’s lies and its crimes, you can put your body into the political fight against the war grinding up hundreds of thousands in Iraq and the new wars currently being planned. You can be about ending racism and the hatred of immigrants being whipped up with deadly consequences. You can be about shattering the oppression of women and gay people. You can dare to take on and break people out of the death grip of the hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism that enshrines this subjugation as divine. You can defy the right-wing student brownshirts trying to cleanse the campuses of subversive ideas and critical thought.
You can throw your fist in the air and get way out there—the way young people have in every heroic struggle for justice and liberation in the past—bringing hope to people around the world and challenging and inspiring others to resist throughout society. You can act urgently and set in motion political resistance and upheaval powerful enough to drive the Bush regime from power and to open up the possibility of a whole different world.
And you can learn. You can find out about the human beings and their lives being shaped and destroyed by all this. You can look deeper at the structures that have caused all this, the ideas that have reinforced all this. You can investigate solutions that have been curtained off—behind the “caution tape” of the official keepers of ideas and “solutions,” written off even by many who hate the way things are but who have themselves been misled or have settled in—to see what has truly been accomplished through the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed and exploited throughout the world.
You can even dig beneath the simplistic and cynical refrain of “power corrupts” that serves simply as an excuse to leave things the way they are. You can—and you should—explore the truly breathtaking things that have been accomplished when the masses have held revolutionary state power in places like the Soviet Union or China, when they were really revolutionary. You can stand on the shoulders of all of this—of those who have sacrificed and struggled, who have dared to dream and to live and to fight for the emancipation of all of humanity—and you can be a part of taking all of this so much further.
If you’ve read this far, you’re someone who wants to change the world. Don’t listen to the cynics and the worldly wise who tell you you can’t, who try to lower your sights. History shows that the dreamers and fighters are right. Follow your principles, work to realize your deepest and highest aspirations, and follow THAT where it leads you.
And while you do that, check out and engage with this paper every week. Take it out to and talk about it with others. Get out the truth and a whole spirit of resistance and revolution. Get into the works of Bob Avakian: his re-envisioning of the communist project; his analysis of current world events and the challenges before people who want a different world; and the answers, approaches, and questions he is putting forward about what is involved in making a revolution that can remake the whole world in a truly liberating, viable, and lasting way.
Do all this as we work together to resist and reverse the mounting horrors—including the fight sharpening up now over whether the campuses will be centers of resistance or sites of imperialist indoctrination.
Your life is either going to count for something—or it is going to count for nothing. The world is intolerable. It is crying out for justice.
Don’t look away from it.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
This quiz is available on the World Can’t Wait website, worldcantwait.org. We encourage readers to take the quiz—and get it out broadly.
What country in the Middle East refuses to confirm or deny that it has a nuclear weapons program and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
What country agreed to be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and opened up its country to IAEA inspectors?
What country has the IAEA severely criticized for falsifying information on Iran’s nuclear program?
What country(ies) has/have ever used nuclear weapons on civilian populations?
1. Israel (Sources: Arms Control Association Fact Sheet, “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at a Glance”; “144-Nation Atomic Energy Conference Criticizes Israel,” AP, 9/20/07)
2. Iran (Sources: “Iran President Vows to Ignore UN Measures,” NY Times, 9/26/07; “UN Find No Nuclear Bomb Program in Iran,” Washington Post, 11/16/04; “Report Showing Rise in Iran’s Nuclear Activity Exposes Split between the U.S. and UN,”
NY Times, 8/31/07)
3. U.S. (Source: “IAEA Blasts U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran,” cnn.com, 9/24/06)
4. U.S. (Source: “Hiroshima!” video on youtube.com)
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
Jesus Suarez del Solar died on March 27, 2003, when he stepped on a U.S. cluster bomb in Iraq, where he was a Marine lance corporal. His father, Fernando Suarez, has become an outspoken anti-war activist. Fernando was thrown out of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York for holding up a sign that said, “Bush Lied, My Son Died.”
Fernando Suarez says that his son was approached by U.S. military recruiters when he was 13—and living in Tijuana, Mexico. Jesus’s parents, thinking that he would get a better education in the U.S., sold their home and laundry business and moved to Escondido, just over the border in California. Jesus enrolled in a high school known for high academic achievement, but the recruiters talked him into transferring to a school for “troubled teens,” where the requirements for graduating were lower and he could finish earlier.
Jesus was 17 when he graduated. But he was still too young to enlist on his own, so his father co-signed the enlistment papers. Jesus was only 20 when he died in Iraq, fighting in the Bush regime’s immoral and illegitimate war.
Fernando talks about the way the U.S. military recruiters lured his son, and how they go after other youth in Mexico and the barrios in the U.S. “This, in my opinion, is very immoral.”
Under the pressure of finding a way to survive while living in the shadows, many immigrant families have been faced with this dilemma of sending their kids to war in exchange for possibly getting legal status, and perhaps avoid being snatched up on the streets, at home, or at work and getting deported.
What kind of a system is it that forces people into such cruel choices? Look at how the U.S. rulers, and other imperialist powers, roam all over the world, plundering resources and super-exploiting billions of people—including children forced into slave labor—and enforcing all this with brutal military threats, invasions, and occupations. These imperialist dominators distort and ruin economies and crush people’s lives—like in Mexico, where penetration by U.S. capital has devastated agriculture and driven millions of people to desperately seek work across the border in order to feed themselves and their families. Then, when these immigrants make the often-deadly trek across the border and arrive in the U.S., they are hounded by armed immigration police and reactionary vigilantes, and demonized as “criminals” and even “threats to national security.”
And now, these same rulers who forced people into this situation offer a “way out” for immigrant youth: to risk their lives brutalizing and killing people in Iraq and elsewhere who find themselves in exactly the same situation! Like Jesus Suarez, these youth are told by the U.S. rulers: If you sign up for the our military and go off to fight for the empire, we’ll consider you eligible to become “good American citizens.”
The “Dream Act”
The difficulties in recruiting enough new soldiers into their military has led the U.S. rulers to expand their recruitment among oppressed people—even those who are in the U.S. “illegally.” One track the government is pursuing is to revive a provision of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIRB), which failed to pass the Senate in June 2007. The provision, the so-called “Dream Act” (or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is mostly known for its offer to open up a path to legalization, and maybe even citizenship status, to undocumented immigrants who attend college and earn a two-year degree or finish two years toward a bachelors degree.
But there is a lesser known part of the Dream Act—it offers the same possibility for legalization for undocumented immigrants who join the armed forces for at least two years and who have been living in the U.S. for at least six years prior to that. This legislation has now been attached to the defense bill in the Congress, which will be voted on soon. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a co-sponsor of the amendment, said it was appropriate to attach the Dream Act to the defense bill because this would “address a very serious recruitment crisis that faces our military.”
On Sunday, October 14, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial entitled “A recruiter’s dream,” which says: “Serve in the military; get a leg up on citizenship.” This same editorial says: “The Army Times reports that military leaders in charge of recruiting and personnel policy called the measure ‘very appealing.’”
In June, Durbin said, “It turns out that many in the Department of Defense believe, as I do, that the Dream Act is an important part of making certain we have talented young men and women ready to serve in our military.” The Dream Act has broad bipartisan support in Congress.
While the U.S. imperialists have always lured immigrants to serve as cannon fodder for their wars with the promise of giving them citizenship, this most recent push to ensnare hundreds of thousands of youth into the war machine began shortly after 9/11 when George Bush signed Executive Order 13296, which promised to shorten the time immigrants have to wait for citizenship if they serve in the armed forces.
According to the Pentagon, there are now 35,000 non-citizens in the U.S. military, and about 8,000 join each year to try to take this promised path to citizenship. The government estimates that if the Dream Act were to be passed, there would be about 750,000 undocumented youth eligible to be recruited. (The Boston Globe, June 16, 2007)
Even as the rantings of those like Lou Dobbs and Congressman (and presidential candidate) Tancredo are blasted over the airwaves, labeling “illegal aliens” as “criminals” and worse, the thought of hundreds of thousands of young people available to slaughter and die for this empire has made even those who have opposed any path to legalization have second thoughts. The Boston Globe quotes retired Air Force General Thomas McInerney, identified as a “conservative commentator and military analyst,” saying that the Dream Act “…is not perfect, but it is far better than some of the ways they are talking about granting illegals new status here.”
Recruiters Target Oppressed Youth
Whatever happens with the Dream Act, military recruiters are already heavily targeting youth in immigrant and oppressed communities. On October 15, the Chicago Public Schools commissioned the first public school run by the U.S. Marines. A few days later, Chicago officials announced that an Air Force academy high school would open in 2009. Chicago already has the highest number of junior cadet programs in the country. More than 11,000 students are enrolled in the district’s five military academies. Most of these are in low-income, oppressed communities where there are large concentrations of immigrants.
In Los Angeles, another city that the armed forces have targeted for its large Latino population, Arlene Inouye, a teacher at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, says, “It is common knowledge that recruiters offer green cards [permanent resident status]” to youth who enlist in the military.
Recruiting U.S. Mercenaries Worldwide
These cold-blooded calculations of recruiting non-U.S. citizens are not just limited to those living in the U.S. These imperialists want to be the new Rome. They are envisioning a kind of “foreign legion” to complement the mercenary armies like Blackwater that they already employ in many parts of the world. Following in the footsteps of the Romans, who took conquered people to fight in different lands; or the French, with their infamous Foreign Legion; or the British, who enlisted Nepalese soldiers called Gurkhas, to serve in their army—today the U.S. is attempting to forge an army out of its colonized people to fight on many fronts.
On October 19, 2006, the Washington Post published an article by Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who proposed such a plan. They wrote: “Despite growing anti-Americanism, U.S. citizenship is still one of the world’s most precious commodities, so there should be no shortage of volunteers. Since proficiency in English would presumably be important for those joining the armed forces, we might focus on South Asia, anglophone Africa, and parts of Latin America, Europe and East Asia (the Philippines would be a natural recruiting ground) where English is common as a second language. These regions have more than 2 billion people, tens of millions of whom reach military age each year.”
This is the thinking of people who want an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire and have declared they are waging an endless war to achieve it.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
“Free the Jena 6” in Watsonville
The Jena 6 are still facing decades in jail. The system is determined to punish the Black students at Jena High School for first daring to sit under the “whites-only tree” in the schoolyard, and then daring to stand under the tree in protest when lynching nooses were hung from the tree.
Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6, had his original conviction overturned as the movement to Free the Jena 6 grew. After the historic outpouring of protest in Jena itself, and in school walkouts in cities around the country, he was released from jail for a brief period. But on October 11, he was locked up again, by a system determined to deliver again the message that you cannot stand up to white supremacy.
Among protests on October 16 against the re-imprisonment of Mychal Bell, students at Watsonville High School in California, where the majority of students are Latino, wore black in support of the Jena 6. Revolution correspondent Alice Woodward interviewed an organizer of the protest in Watsonville:
Tell me about spreading the word about the Jena 6 and building for an action on October 16.
I thought it was going to be kind of hard because it’s homecoming week and everyone wears different things because of that, but I didn’t want to give up. Once I told them what Jena 6 was, a lot of them were shocked and thought it was completely unfair. Ones who already knew, they didn’t really need me to explain anything—they just freaked out as soon as they heard Mychal Bell was back in prison. I was just like, hey did you guys know? And they were like, oh my god, are you serious, what happened? I explained it to them and then I told them I was asking them to wear black in support of him and they said that they would.
People didn’t know about lynching?
No, they didn’t know what a noose was. I had to tell them, I mentioned lynching, and they’re like, “What’s that?”—they didn’t really know. I think it’s because nobody talks about that, because we don’t have that many African American students, but it’s part of our history, but then our history books don’t mention that. I was talking to them and I would mention noose, and right after I mentioned a noose and I would say, do you know what a noose is? They would say no, and I would say a noose is a rope that’s already prepared to lynch someone, and I would kind of get a blank expression from them, and I would ask, do you know what lynching means? They’d say no. And I would be like, lynching is hanging someone. And their jaw would drop. I would tell them, ya know it’s not just Black people that were being lynched, it was people here in Watsonville, Mexicans were lynched. I brought it back home, while emphasizing what was going on in Louisiana with the Jena 6.
How did you find out about the history of lynchings and the oppression of black people?
I kind of did research on my own because in our history classes, we learned about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and they showed us a movie about one of the big marches that Martin Luther King did in the South, but that’s pretty much it. I wanted to know, what were the consequences of people doing that? Also my government teacher showed us a video about voting rights and how police would beat up people who tried to fight for their rights, and I was like if beatings happened then what happened to every other person of color? But I kind of found out from my own research.
Since you got involved in this, what are you thinking about how the world could be changed? What do you think about revolution?
Revolution? I love the thought of it. I would love a big revolution to happen. I constantly think about it. I would love to be in it. I think we need it, but for some reason we don’t have enough people involved and aware to make a dramatic change in our society as I would hope for. We have a movement, a good movement, a big movement, but I think that movement needs to grow, more people need to act and release anger in order to have a change.
I don’t know what kind of world is possible. I would like to believe that we can live in a world where you don’t get stared down for any reason. For example, in Watsonville, being a mostly Mexican Catholic community you get looked down at if you have colored hair (not browns but bright colors), for having ink on your body or holes all over it. If you’re too dark and short you are made less than someone with light skin. When I go to San Francisco I don’t feel those judgmental looks. I know we can do that all over the world. It will take time, but I hope it happens. I would like a world where money doesn’t have authority. Where celebrities aren’t worshiped, but true leaders are admired.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
October 15, 2007
David Horowitz has called for a “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” on the major campuses in this country for October 22-26, 2007. Literature calling for this week, posted on Frontpagemag.com, states:
“The purpose of this protest is as simple as it is crucial: to confront the two Big Lies of the political left: that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat. Nothing could be more politically incorrect than to point this out. But nothing could be more important for American students to hear. In the face of the greatest danger Americans have ever confronted, the academic left has mobilized to create sympathy for the enemy and to fight anyone who rallies Americans to defend themselves. According to the academic left, anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the war on terror is an 'Islamophobe.' According to the academic left, the Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are 'oppressors.'
"Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is a national effort to oppose these lies and to rally American students to defend their country.”
This is part of a larger campaign Horowitz has been aggressively pursuing, which includes an effort—hypocritically called for in the name of academic freedom—to target what he calls “leftist” professors and progressive organizations and cast them as enemies of America who should be driven off campus. (His book, The 101 Most Dangerous Professors—a book whose facts have been disputed by many of those he has targeted—is an illustration of this.) As has been documented in Revolution newspaper as well as by others, Horowitz does not genuinely support academic freedom, nor the search for the truth. Taking the lead from people high up in the ruling circles of this country, Horowitz likes to paint himself and people who agree with him as victims of suppression who are barely able to express their views, as he heaps slander and calls for witchhunts and purging of the universities—the firing and worse—of those who oppose the reactionary agenda he espouses.
David Horowitz, and those he is allied with and proudly promotes as his “great line-up of speakers like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, former Senator Rick Santorum, Michael Medved, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Dennis Prager” for his “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” are proven liars and advocates of the most reactionary causes. To have a situation where people like this—people who are organizing a whole fascist movement in society, people who right now are seeking to rally the populace to the next step of an illegal and outrageous “war on terror” which they expect to last for generations—to have them come to campuses and not be politically challenged and exposed for what they are would be very dangerous, and unacceptable.
Different groups and individuals are organizing in different ways to oppose and expose this “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," and the more people are becoming clear on what this is all about, the more they are stepping forward to get out the truth on the issues that Horowitz claims he wants to have openly discussed and debated. All of this has been met with cries of “foul” from the promoters of “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
And now, in yet another example of the kind of lies and distortions that are the stock-in-trade of David Horowitz, a fund appeal has gone out in his name raising a series of false and slanderous accusations about the Revolutionary Communist Party and its intentions regarding the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” It is nothing new for David Horowitz to publish outright lies about his opponents—the flagrant lies he packages in a single paragraph are too numerous to refute here—but in this case he has gone so far as to manufacture claims of physical threats to himself and other speakers who will appear as part of the events during this week. This would be bad enough if it were only a cheap ploy to raise funds for his crusade using supposed threats to his “personal security,” but in fact it is a dangerous attempt to set people up and create a situation where those who choose to challenge politically what the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” is all about can become targets of repression or worse.
So it is necessary to set the record straight. Many articles have appeared in Revolution newspaper on this subject: they have exposed the truth about Horowitz and the confusion he is seeking to create. What these articles have consistently called for is politically confronting this whole Horowitzian effort—bringing to light the real agenda and opposing this with real facts and the truth. (These articles can be read at revcom.us.) In "Close Encounters of the Horowitz Kind," by Alan Goodman, the author summarizes from his own personal experience that:
“.... we have to take on Horowitz with substantial, hard-hitting arguments that expose what he is all about. We have to go after him with facts, using his own words to damn him, and drag out and expose his real agenda to his followers. Anything less than that won’t cut it and will even play into his hands.”*
It is just this kind of political debate that Horowitz and friends fear and hope to prevent .
Each day new lies and fabrications appear on the websites that promote the views of Horowitz and company. No one should believe or give any credence to anything that these people claim to have been said or written by the Revolutionary Communist Party. No lie is too big for them to fabricate.
In this fund appeal, Horowitz claims that the call for politically confronting this whole fascist movement really means something else. No it does not mean something else: in everything that has been published and advocated in Revolution newspaper, it has been made clear that what should be done is politically confronting their goals and politically defeating them, and that is exactly what is meant. No threats of physical violence or confrontation against speakers or participants have been made, implied or intended by the Revolutionary Communist Party. When Horowitz makes this claim, this is a blatant lie. He claims that in the past he has been physically assaulted by people associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party. This is also untrue—no such assault ever took place.
What should not happen is that people retreat from the desperately needed debate and controversy; that the intimidating accusations being hurled at those who oppose this whole agenda have the effect of silencing those who need to speak out. Exactly the opposite is what is needed.
“Indeed, all people who care anything about critical thinking and academic freedom, and about the issues of war, repression, racism and the oppression of women must rally together, and seek out, confront and put this whole effort on the political defensive. Horowitz’s project has to be opposed and taken as an opportunity to raise awareness of the growing danger of U.S. fascism and the reality of the fascist direction and measures being taken by those in the highest reaches of power." (from “Resist ‘Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week’ Confront the Horowitz Fascists with Real Facts and Truth”, Revolution #102, September 23, 2007).
* For those who want to understand what kind of political confrontation with David Horowitz and his ilk is being called for, read "Close Encounters of the Horowitz Kind," parts 1 and 2, in Revolution newspaper issues #47 and #48, by Alan Goodman.
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
Phyllis Chesler’s pamphlet (titled The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam—see article in last week’s issue of Revolution, titled “The Hypocrisy of ‘Newly Minted Feminists’…and David Horowitz’ Dangerous Agenda,” available online at revcom.us) accurately quotes the oppressive teaching of the Koran—but what about the teachings of the Bible? What’s so great about the Judeo-Christian religion?
What about the tens of thousands of women judged as heretics and witches who were burned at the stake all over Europe by the Catholic Church?
What about the fact that the modern-day Catholic church bans birth control and divorce?
The submission of women is the official teachings of Christianity—not just in the Old Testament but in the New Testament:
1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 14:33‑35 “33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.”
1 Corinthians 11:7‑9: “For a man…is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.”
Timothy 2:11‑12: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent…”
Timothy 2:13‑15 “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Biblical literalists who now control the Southern Baptist Convention that adopted a covenant on the family in 2000 which a husband “has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.”
Then what of the Old Testament where stoning is prescribed?
“If any man take a wife, and go unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say I took this woman and when I came to her, I found her not a maid…if this thing be true and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.” Deuteronomy 22:13‑21
The oppression of women is at the foundations of and practically synonymous with every religion. David Horowitz can claim to be a supporter of the Reformation and Enlightenment, and talk about how that makes the difference; but in actual fact, the forces he aligns himself with are precisely those who see the Enlightenment as a bad thing. To take one example: these are the people who have fought to oppose the scientific theory of evolution and to demand that the schools teach “intelligent design,” which is at bottom a dressed-up justification for biblical literalism and tears down the separation between church and state.